Europe

Sturgeon could spark England’s breakaway from rest of UK ‒ ex-Welsh First Minister claimed

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘No appetite’ for removal says commentator

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Scotland’s First Minister is pushing for a second independence referendum as Holyrood’s May elections approach and the Scottish National Party (SNP) continues to enjoy popularity in the polls. She has said that if the SNP wins a clear majority in May, then the party will move to hold a “legal referendum”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has repeatedly refused to entertain the idea of a second vote.

He previously suggested that a more realistic date for an Indyref2 would be 2055 – amounting to the same period of time elapsed between Britain’s two Brexit votes.

Yet, as Professor Robert Johns, an academic who specialises in Scottish politics told Express.co.uk, the SNP look almost certain to win in May, and thus pave the way for Ms Sturgeon to establish her referendum.

Should Scotland depart the UK, senior figures in politics have suggested a chain reaction could come into effect.

This string of events, according to former Welsh Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones, would lead to England throwing in the towel and also leaving the UK.

He made the comments to DW News in 2019 ahead of the general election, in which Welsh Labour lost 59 seats but held on to a slim majority in the Senedd.

This was largely a result of Welsh Labour’s ambiguity on the UK’s position in the EU, as over 52 percent of people voted to leave in 2016.

As the prospect of a no deal Brexit loomed at the time, the question of independence once again drifted into the public psyche.

Mr Jones said: “We could stand alone, but the question is whether we should.

“I believe not. We are a partnership of four nations.”

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Wales currently spends more than it raises, and has no track record of borrowing.

Mr Jones said that Wales exported 60 percent of its products to the EU’s single market, “but most of that is to England”, a point which he said meant Wales could be independent “by default”.

This spurred the former First Minister to suggest that an independent Scotland could spark a scenario in which Wales is left isolated without the support of England, which Welsh pro-Union figures have held on to.

Mr Jones said: “If Scotland goes and Northern Ireland decides to join a united Ireland, England and Wales alone would not work and maybe the English would leave us.”

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The only party with any significant leverage in Wales that would offer independence is Plaid Cymru.

In his 2018 book, ‘Wales: The First & Final Colony’, Plaid’s leader Adam Price says the party would begin rolling out its independence plans if it is successful in May’s election.

Independence has gained momentum in Wales in recent years.

Polls differ, but a YouGov survey released in January found that 31 percent of Welsh voters want an independence referendum in the next five years, compared to 47 percent of those who are against the idea.

This is far off the support that independence has in Scotland, which more than half of the population want.

Yet, as the renowned historian Robert Tombs told Express.co.uk, even that might prove precarious.

He reflected on the Brexit vote and cited evidence that showed as many as two-thirds of Britons not liking the EU, but the vote only amounted to 52 percent.

Prof Tombs said: “If you think about the Brexit referendum, a lot of people didn’t like the EU, with some evidence that as many as two thirds of people were not keen on it.

“Yet, only just over half voted to leave because of the economic risks, among other things.

“It seems to me if you think that Scotland is similar, you’d have to have at least two thirds of the Scottish electorate saying they wanted independence before it became a serious prospect.

“As far as I know it’s only just over the 50 percent mark, and I can’t believe that’s anywhere near enough to make it happen when there’s such a serious campaign about it already under way.”

In Wales, many have noted that the crucial obstacle Plaid faces is a policy that is similar to the SNP’s: That it wishes to break away from the UK but wants EU membership.

Mr Price has justified this discrepancy by claiming that “Wales and Europe have always been tightly woven together like a Celtic knot”, highlighting the age-old relationship the Welsh have had with their European neighbours in the face of English adversity.

But the data shows it is difficult to reconcile this historical relationship with a Welsh population who want to leave their ties with Brussels behind them.

However, a poll carried out by ITV last month suggested the tide may be turning.

There, 44 percent of Welsh voters said they would vote Yes in an EU membership vote, while 38 percent said they would reject it, the trend clearly in line with a growth in support for independence.

Meawhile, Mr Johnson has thrown his weight behind a campaign to stop Scotland from leaving the Union.

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